Friday, December 28, 2012

Umstead Trail Runners: Have You Seen the Company Mill Trail Revision?

Umstead Company Mill Trail has a new section
This is new.

There was a time when I declared that I hated surprises. But, this isn't necessarily true (except in cases where the surprise is decidedly unpleasant or maliciously calculated). I actually love the unexpected. So, I was thrilled to see that there have been some conspicuous changes to the Company Mill Trail's route.

Specifically, the rather steep staircase on the east side of the loop has been replaced by a series of switchbacks on manicured, albeit narrow, ground. This new route takes the east-bound runner up the hillside on a more gradual incline and flattens out across the top before joining the original trail.

Umstead Company Mill Trail
This is part of steep climb that
the new portion replaced.

While this new portion of Company Mill is certainly less challenging than the wicked staircase/rocky trail combo that it replaced, it's nice to see more of the park. It's a pretty little section of the woods.

Overall, this new path is just a brief sojourn from what I am used to running on Company Mill. My guess is that this new terrain adds a bit of distance to the original trail's 5.8-mile route. But, I haven't seen any official or precise measurements relative to the new section yet.

If you haven't had the chance to run Company Mill since this change to the trail, have a look at the photos below to get a sense of what awaits you.

Umstead Company Mill Trail where the steps used to be
This is where that staircase used to be.
Umstead Company Mill Trail
Umstead Company Mill Trail
Umstead Company Mill Trail

11 comments:

  1. looks beautiful ... in a cold sort of way (for this so-cal runner anyway). :)

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    1. Thanks Ric! It's definitely a little chilly now. But, I tell myself it could be a lot worse. Imagine if there was 3' of snow covering those trails.

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  2. I for one will miss that tough little hill! I had a conversation with two of the park rangers about this because I wanted to know where this trail re-routing comes from and why it is happening. My concern obviously is that we are slowly replacing anything steep or challenging with more pedestrian friendly meandering trails. I basically put it to the rangers that I hate to see this if the purpose is to make the trails easier. They assured me that the issue is erosion control, and explained that the Umstead trails were constructed a long time ago without much knowledge or consideration for erosion control. They said the number of visitors in Umstead has been increasing dramatically and they have to address how the trails handle water runoff. It was a nice conversation and they understood that a lot of us don't want to see Umstead turned into a paved greenway. I did congratulate them on how well they hide the old trail when they do the switch! Even after years of running on it, you would be hard pressed to pick out the spot where the new trail diverges.

    So there you go, we just have to throw out all the FKT's using company mill and start over ;-)

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing this info, Garth! It makes sense that they'd want to make some adjustments for the sake of erosion control. I can think of a few other sections of trail that definitely have issues with water runoff.
      And, I'll miss that tough, little hill, too!

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  3. Pleasantly surprised to find this upgrade a couple of week back while coming through Company Mill!

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    1. It is nice when the surprise is a pleasant one, isn't it, Gene? :)

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  4. Ditto to what Gene said. Although I was running early in the morning and it was a little dark still, so it was more of a sudden realization that I hadn't been there before. I'll have to hit it again in full daylight to see the old trail.

    I've done some trail work in various places and we know so much more about trail construction now. Good to see that Umstead can allocate some resources toward making less-erodable trails.

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    1. That's sort of the way I felt the first time I ran that new section, Steph. It took me a few seconds to realize that this was indeed new terrain.

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  5. w/the trail revision I think it might actually be tougher (counter-clockwise). the old steps, it was a quick blast of up hill, then done. it is nice hitting it on the downhill though.

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  6. Christmas Eve my friend Kelly had a group run on the Yough Trail. His company is also a two time sponsor of the Boston Harvest! Runner Shona Stephenson

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